The Le Mans endurance race is long considered as the oldest and pre-eminent race of its kind in the world. It’s safe to say that the teams that participate in Le Mans aren’t exactly what you’d consider as run-of-the-mill. Only the big boys play here, so they say.
On that note, recent Le Mans history has seen two automakers sit on top of the throne. While one team has long dominated the endurance race for the past decade, one team was able to put a stomp to the other’s run of dominance, claiming the overall championship in 2011.
This year, the French automaker is armed and ready for battle after introducing their 2011 Le Mans racer, the new 908 HDi FAP race car.
While it’s going to have it’s hands full against Audi and their equally new R18 LMP1 racer , the new 908 race car is expected to be the strongest challenger to Audi’s reign of dominance. Whether the latter has the goods to knock off the former from its perch is still anyone’s guess. What we do know is that these two cars will be front and center when the 2011 Le Mans endurance race kicks off in June 11.
Details after the jump
Exterior and Interior
The Peugeot 908 is a closed-cockpit car that comes with four identical wheels and a so-called "shark’s fin" engine cover. With it’s odd contours and swooping lines, the new 908 is without a doubt built to run at the world’s most famous endurance race.
Given the new regulations set for the 2011 race, Peugeot decided to modify a few aspects of the new 908, including the increase in size of the contact patch between the tires and the track, which the use of bigger front wheels, all while abiding by the new rules specified for the 2011 race.
Instead of a V12 turbo-diesel engine that was previously used in previous iterations of the 908 Le Mans race car, the latest incarnation will now be powered by a 3.7-liter V8 HDi FAP turbodiesel engine with a 90-degree angle and an output of 550 horsepower.
The car is a competition ready Le Mans racer built and developed by Peugeot, which means that it probably wouldn’t be sold in the market anytime soon.
Over the past five years, only two manufacturers have won the 24 Hour of Le Mans title. The first manufacturer – Audi – is the unquestioned king of recent Le Mans championships, having won four of the past five titles, including three in a row for the Audi R10 TDi from 2006 – 2008. In the span of time, the only brand that knocked Audi out of the top spot was Peugeot – it won the title in 2009 – with the 908 HDi FAP.
This year, the two heavyweight brands are expected to have yet another classic battle on board two completely new vehicles. For Audi, the 2011 Le Mans race will feature the debut of the R18 LMP1 and its 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine mated to a six-speed transmission unit. That drivetrain is pretty much the same as what’s sitting inside the new 908 so if you really think about it, the battle for 2011 Le Mans supremacy between the long-reigning champ and its closest competitor will figure to be one for the ages.
- Powerful engine
- Championship pedigree
- Audi Le Mans slayer
- Not for sale
- No chance of driving it
- Fantasy car for the rest of us